Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Bitcoin's Satoshi Nakamoto Revealed?: Two independent reports came out Tuesday identifying Australian businessman Craig Steven Wright and deceased American computer forensics expert Dave Kleiman as the probable creators of the digital currency bitcoin. No sooner were their identities revealed as the likely creators than Australian federal police raided Wright's suburban Sydney home in an alleged tax investigation. Wired was the first to report Wright was probably the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto. The website cited evidence that includes now-deleted posts from Wright's own blog detailing the launch of bitcoin and what Wired deemed to be leaked emails, discussing a trust fund that Wright held containing 1.1 million bitcoins, called the Tulip Trust. That fund is reportedly the same size as the fortune long associated with the bitcoin trove held by Nakamoto. Wired points to other evidence, including Wright's attempt to create Hotwire, a bitcoin-based bank.
Gizmodo followed hours later with its own independent report on Wright and Kleiman allegedly being the digital currency's inventors. In this case, Gizmodo said the emails, which it had access to, were hacked. It says Kleiman, an Army veteran who lived in Palm Beach County, Fla., died in 2013 amidst squalor. He had been disabled in a motorcycle accident years earlier. Gizmodo acknowledged the slippery slope in attempting to identify bitcoin's creator, pointing to previous attempts including Newsweek's 2014 identification of a California engineer. However, Gizmodo says the newly acquired email evidence points to Wright being open about his status as the bitcoin founder – and a separate report from news organization Fusion backs up the evidence, noting that Wright has coyly referenced his early involvement in the digital currency publicly before.
As for the Australian police investigation, unnamed police sources have said the raid was unrelated to the bitcoin reports but rather to a tax probe, the Wall Street Journal reports. On the record though, the Australian Tax Office said it couldn't comment on an individual's tax affairs to due confidentiality provisions in tax laws. The Guardian also reports the house showed signs of being recently vacated, including a full mailbox and a trash bin left out since last Thursday's collection
Online Lender Made Loan to California Shooters: Online lending platform Prosper Marketplace has found itself thrust into investigations into San Bernardino shooters Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik. An unnamed source told the Wall Street Journal Farook, who along with his wife Malik reportedly attacked an office holiday party and killed 14 people in a potential terrorist act, took out a $28,500 loan from Prosper weeks before the incident. Thus far, Prosper has not been accused of any wrongdoing in originating the loan. The San Francisco company said its loans "are subject to all identity verification and screening procedures required by law, including U.S. antiterrorism and antimoney laundering laws." Federal Bureau of Investigation officials noted the two suspects had not been sources of suspicion before the attack. And while Prosper arranges the loans, they are actually issued by Utah-based WebBank, Bloomberg notes. Fox News earlier reported the loan, which was included in Tuesday's Morning Scan. It's also still unclear how the money was used.
Some analysts have already begun to chime in on the ramifications this loan could have for alternative lending at large. Banking analyst Richard Bove told Bloomberg he thought the incident could become a "game changer" in regards to how regulators now treat online lending. Still, given the lack of red flags surrounding Farook, others say it's hard to fault Prosper for approving the loan – especially when Prosper already follows stringent regulations.
Bond Trader Cleared: A federal appeals court has overturned the conviction of a former Jefferies Group LLC bond trader in a decision that could stymie regulatory efforts to crackdown on Wall Street's bad behavior. The decision reversed a conviction against Jesse Litvak on fraud charges, citing insufficient evidence, the Wall Street Journal reports. The court also threw out a conviction for securities fraud because it said a lower court wrongly excluded testimony Litvak sought to offer in his defense. Litvak allegedly created fake sellers as he tried to persuade investors to purchase bonds at inflated prices. His conviction lent credence to the Justice Department's efforts to delineate appropriate negotiating tactics from criminal offenses. As the Financial Times notes, though, this new development could have implications in other ongoing cases, including prosecutions against former Nomura and Royal Bank of Scotland traders.
Wall Street Journal
Living with negative interest rates makes for some interesting outcomes, as the paper discovered when it turned its focus to Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland. These three countries dropped their interest rates into the negative following the European Central Bank's rate cuts – and they now will become a real-life example of what the eurozone's future could hold. And what might happen in a negative rate environment is hard to guess. For instance, while Denmark has successfully used negative rates to successfully stabilize its currency, the Danish krone, against speculative bets on appreciation. Some consumers have also benefitted: some folks in Denmark with floating-rate mortgages effectively have negative-interest rate mortgages now, so they pay principal minus interest, which means the bank pays them to borrow. Danish banks have lost $145 million due to the negative rates, and concerns are mounting that housing bubbles could be forming in Denmark and Sweden.
Following new rules designed to encourage competition and help out consumers, the U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority has published a list of banks that offer the lowest interest on savings. The regulator had found in a review of the savings market that many banks have customers who hold money in accounts opened more than five year ago, when rates were lower than they are now. From now on, the FCA will publish a list of the banks with the lowest rates on savings every six months. Beginning next year, banks will also have to provide customers clear information on interest rates for cash savings and remind them when they change rates or at the end of introductory offers.
New York Times
It seems like Microsoft founder Bill Gates has made good use of his Outlook contacts. Gates helped – through prodding and networking – get the ball rolling on what has become one of the largest public-private partnerships aimed at addressing climate change. Mission Innovation, as the plan has been called, was unveiled at the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) in Paris. Gates' deep level of influence from his experience as the world's richest man, a leading philanthropist and a renowned tech innovator helped to garner the commitments of 20 countries and billionaires including Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Alibaba's Jack Ma. The entire mission is an attempt to address what Gates saw as a lack of investment into research and development in previous efforts to curtail climate change. The 20 countries in the partnership will double clean energy R&D budgets to $20 billion over the next five years, while the wealthy private investors will funnel $2 billion into start-ups. Half of the private funds are coming from Gates himself, and he cautions some of the start-ups will fail.